This very brief video carries a far-reaching message on the malaise that is evident in every part of Nigeria’s society, including churches.
Nigeria not only celebrates mediocrity but has elevated what in other societies would be viewed as maladjustment at best but in the real sense of such behaviors, criminality, to the highest possible level.
One of the regularly-visited posts on this blog contains the views of a departing expatriate who declared three years ago that “In Nigeria, being dishonest is not socially frowned upon.” Ouch! [Link at end of essay.]
Why is that?
Why did Iwu, a “good” Catholic, known during his Abuja electoral Obasanjo’s (rGO), hatchet man days never – according to reports – missed daily Mass? He was also reported as being one of the first people to arrive in church.
How could a good Catholic, with belief in Christian’s Ten Commadments among which are not stealing and not bearing false witness allow himself to be used as perhaps the worst manipulator of election results in Nigeria’s history? At Catholic School, I attended Mass almost daily even though not a Catholic and know enough Church doctrine to realize that Catholics are not expected to take Holy Communion without having been to Confession to confess their sins where they ask the Rev. Fathers for forgiveness. An implication of Confession is that one would not repeat the sinful act but in states after states and in election re-runs when called for, Iwu committed the same sins over and over again.
Ngige, Agagu, Oyinlola … and others who were governors and ruled without mandates for years, earning and making millions while mismanaging billions in states’ revenues were some of the beneficiaries of Iwu’s theft of the people’s will,the “good Catholic” who sat in a metaphoric front row pew at an Abuja Church during rGO’s reign.
I often wondered what worse sins than stealing people’s voices outcomes of which led to many protests during which hundreds of Nigerians lost their lives Iwu allowed the Rev. Fathers to know about. Or did the Rev. Fathers, to whom Iwu “confessed” his sins without mentioning election result manipulations, culpability to judicial killings, et cetera, ever counsel Iwu about the crimes that were known to young and old, educated and illiterates alike all over Nigeria, or did they just uncharacteristically of Nigeria’s Catholic priests, keep quiet?
How could rGO qualify as “whom God has used [him] greatly to bless our dear country …” according to the Nigerian Baptist Convention at the end of his tenure in 2007?
Many Nigerians – this blogger included – agreed with Femi Aribisala’s “Does Nigeria’s ‘Redeemed’ qualify as a Church or a business concern with its Pastor Adeboye able to have donor stampede each time he asks for millions and billions of Naira for ‘God’s work” in the Vanguard a little over a year ago. Reading it must have made uncomfortable reading for “redeemers” judging from the abuses and curses rained on him in comments beyond the Vanguard at the time.
“Knighthood” and “chiefdoms” have become near-coronations in Nigeria’s protestant churches, and days of investitures have become huge celebrations.
I was shocked during a visit to my hometown church, a rural community in Nigeria’s Ondo State on a day that coincided with new chiefs’ investiture. From about a hundred yards to the church, vehicles, including late-model cars and “luxurious” (luxury) buses bearing Abuja and Lagos tags were packed bumper to bumper to celebrate with someone for becoming a “chief” of a big church in a small town.
I had never seen anything quite like the ceremony in my life. The cash generously donated and pledged, the harping on of money, money, and money, the air of self-importance and strutting by the new “chiefs” and the after parties at homes of the “celebrants” was beyond belief. I do not get to attend my home-town church often but have discovered “chiefs” and major donors do get front row seats/preferential treatment at churches these days.
And if truth be told, there are questionable characters known to most in society, who are celebrated by churches in Nigeria these days, be they robbers of the looting category or the ones that have taken over cities and towns at night.
Peter Obi’s “criminals being called Knights …” bring into sharp focus the low level to which Nigerian society has sunk, a country where “being dishonest is not socially frowned upon”, aided in part, by religious faiths. Obi has written about Christians and to that subject I’ve limited myself, and not about Islam, Nigeria’s other main religion.
In a way, it seems that the country has found its way back to the Middle Ages when the Church and State were one, without trying. I do make exception to the Catholic Church in all my writings over the years as being different from other Nigerian churches, including the Anglican to which I belong because it’s more aware of its social responsibilities, and does care in many ways to show commitment to the greater good. Many of its priests speak out against government’s failings while its hospitals and health care facilities in many communities are often the only health providers for miles around.
This blog also promoted a Catholic Hospital at Ipetumodu in Osun State for quite a while and a couple of blog visitors did send contributions – including a Muslim who attended a Catholic secondary school. The hospital’s charge of N500.00 for child delivery was cited for its assistance to maternal health rather than as encouragement to have many children.
I’ve also, on many occasions, singled out the retired Anglican Diocesan of Akure, the Right Rev. Bishop Gbonigi as a man who has followed in the paths of old Anglican bishops in Nigeria, speaking out against the ills of society and the brigandage that government at all levels has become. He was tagged NADECO ‘bishop’ for his outspokenness during the evil rule of late General Abacha.
I’m sure there could be others like him among protestant clergies but church leaderships in Nigeria showed a lack of understanding and care after rGO’s massively-rigged elections during his tenure. Here are the excerpted words of leaders of Nigeria’s mainstream churches quoted from an essay I had written after the 2007 elections. These were quoted in an essay after the 2011 elections:
The Methodists: “… praised Obasanjo for fighting corruption and empowering women and youth.” Perhaps not forgetting its real goal, the Church asked Nigerians to “trust the judgement of the tribunals as the nation’s judiciary has proved that it is above board.” I wonder what Dr. Makinde, who intoned these words back then would now say about rigged-in governors who spent over seven years in power, or about those who got away with the crime, no thanks to a judiciary that saw to the dismantling of justice purportedly for fat fees at the same tribunals that the retired Prelate glowingly recommended …”
The Baptists: “We must thank God for answering the prayers of His people all over the nation, particularly members of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, who sought God’s face regarding the recent elections … We must thank God that in spite of the various short-comings in our political dispensation, and of the recent elections … We salute the resolve of the INEC to keep the faith with the nation, in spite of their short-comings and inadequacies … We must put on record that the Nigerian Baptist Convention is proud of one of our distinguished members, outgoing President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo … He has been used of the Lord to lay a solid foundation for the democratic process …”
The Anglicans: The apparent position of Anglicans was stated by the Bishop of Egba Diocese, Rt. Rev. Matthew Owadayo who reportedly agreed that “there were some fraud and irregularities” but chided Buhari and Atiku not to be “desperate” but “to accept the victory of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua as the will of God” and the losses “as an act of God …”
In closing the 2011essay, I wondered aloud –
“What role should churches and other faiths play in situations like these? As the first votes are waiting to be cast and counted, shouldn’t churches be in the forefront – if they want to take a stand – of warning those in power the dangers that lie ahead IF the elections are rigged again instead of issuing sermons that ask Nigerians to lie down and roll over to die at the approach of the marauding rigging machines?
The despicable role of Ayo Oritsejafor, a “pastor” in the seizure of huge of cash that reportedly belonged to the Nigerian government and meant for alms purchase in South Africa is too recent to narrate. By the way, the plane belonged to the “pastor”.
It must be mentioned here that the Catholic Church removed itself from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) when Oritsejafor, with reportedly more than a little help from the government of Dr. Jonathan, became the head of CAN.
When so-called men of God choose government’s side rather than the country’s interest and the side of a country’s masses, they show their lack of willingness to follow the injunctions of the Christ they claim to serve, opting for physical and metaphorical front row seat in their earthly churches.
PETER OBI SERIES
1 of 7: #Peter ObiAndTheChangeNigeriaNeeds
2 of 7: How I defeated “ministry people …”
3 of 7: I was impeached for cutting waste
4 of 7: Account of Anambra State’s Debt Profile
5 of 7: Our society is fond of celebrating waste
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2016. 6:45 a.m. [GMT]